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Paul Dickson Education. (2013) 'Words From the White House Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America's Presidents.'

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Webster 13, Washington 10, Eisenhower 8, Mulligan 7, United States 6, Roosevelt 6, Us 4, Jefferson 4, Guinness 4, Etc. 3, Vietnam 3, Lyndon Johnson 3, Woodrow Wilson 3, Warren G. Harding 3, Ronald Reagan 3, George Bush 3, John Adams 3, Twain 3, Mencken 2, Tim 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Paul Dickson  Education.  (2013) 'Words From the White  
   House Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America's...  

    January 21, 2013
    10:15 - 11:15am EST  

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so when he after the tet offensive in january of 1968 when cronkite went to vietnam and credit concluded that the ws not winnable, that the war objectives had gotten so murky that it was hard to remember exactly why men were fighting and dying in vietnam, i think that gave him real resonance in the country, and he knew he had a bully pulpit, and he used it very sparingly in the his career. but one of the times he used it was vietnam. >> host: tim, did you get a chance to speak to any of the journalists' family or to andy rooney? >> guest: i sure did. mr. rooney passed away about a year ago this time, thanksgiving time of last year. he could not have been more generous with his time, sat down with me for two three-hour-long interviews. his sons and daughters were just terrific. cronkite's children were also great. and then all the various relatives of the other five that -- were all just terrific.
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>> host: we've been talking with tim gay, author of "assignment to hell." thanks, tim. >> guest: thank you very much, appreciate it. >> next on booktv, paul dickson presents a collection of words popularized by american presidents. the author's collection includes warren g. harding's founding fathers invoked during his 1920s presidential campaign, theodore roosevelt's use of the word muckraker in a speech critical of specific journalists, and military industrial complex delivered by president eisenhower during his final presidential address to the american public in 961. 1961. this is a little under an hour. [applause] >> thank you very much. i've been playing around with words for a long time, and i think when i was a kid, one of my -- i wasn't that athletic, and i wasn't that, you know, smart in various ways, but i could always go home and memorize a couple words, so i
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would learn words like ap nettic and things like that -- apathetic, you know, which for the third grader was a lot of of fun. and as i got to be an older person, i got really fascinated by doing some tricks with words. one of my favorite exercises was one time when my kids were young, you know, they worshiped the guinness book of world records, and in those days in order to get in the guinness book you had to either eat a bicycle or push a peanut across iowa with your nose to get in this book. so i was looking at the guinness book, and i came upon the word that had the most meanings in english which was set, s-e-t. it had 137 meanings, you know, a set of of numbers, set of tennis, etc., etc., but set meaning set your hair, but it was the word with the most meanings. so i realized that the soft underbelly of the guinness book was language, was words. and so i started working on a collection of words for drunk, and i have o now gone through
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about seven or eight collections. in fact, there are people in this room who have actually added to the collection in the last 72 hours. but we're now up to almost 3,000 words, synonyms for drunk. and what was interesting about it was it was not meant to be a celebration of what is a social ill, but it was to show the phenomenal sort of what did the english is, how many euphemisms, how many different terms we have. and what really got to me was looking at all the other people who had collected lists of drunkenness from their time; tom payne, benjamin franklin, a.m. bros bierce -- ambrose bierce, langston hughes had all been sort of fascinated by the fact that at their moment in history there were all these euphemisms that were used for drunk. and, of course, in doing the book i had many, many helpers, some of whom are in this room tonight, that they go back to
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shakespeare, and a lot of them are unscrambling euphemisms in shakespeare. for example, when falstaff comes into the room and he's coming in the like this squinting, and so that was the word for drunk. so a lot of what i've been fascinated with, i've written a number of books, but more than a dozen are books about language, and they tend to be -- they range from the very serious books like i've done a baseball dictionary which has been in three decisions and is now about 10,000 entries which is more than most people want to know about baseball, but i look upon language as a recreation, as something, you know, i guess the term is recreational linguistics which is the ability to use languages as a placing, what drives at the cross word puzzles and scrabble games and things like that. language has pleasure, language is recreation. if you're drowning in yale help, that's the most, you know,
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efficient use of language, help. but beyond that a lot of it's word play. and one of the reasons i still -- i can wow 4-year-olds with knock knock jokes because they're based on word play. but this book got me started and, again, i've done a number of books on language. this one really got me started a while back when i made sort of what i thought was an interesting discovery which is the word "founding fathers," the phrase founding fathers did not go back to the early days of the republic but, in fact, was created by warren g. harding for the 1920s front porch campaign. he actually used it once in 1918, but it was really his phrase was "founding fathers," referring to those people who wrote the constitution and created the country and created its fundamental set of values and laws. and, um, before that i couldn't -- at first i'd pinch myself. i just couldn't get over the fact that there was no earlier use, and i used all the
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databases, and i actually got somebody the legislative reference service at the library of congress to actually back me up on it. can you guys find an earlier example of it? at first there was sort of a deep breath saying, oh, my god, this guy's nuts, but the idea was nobody could find it. then somebody said the founding fathers of harvard university or something, but it was never used as a scripter for the -- descriptor for the people who framed the constitution. it's interesting, also, that it really didn't take off until 1941 when a book was written called "founding fathers." but it was immediately adopted by both sides of the aisle although some of the early uses when you go back and track when it starts being used in the '20s more and more often in replacing the word "framers," it's often used as a negative. the founding fathers never meant for us to have pastel-colored postage stamps, or the founding fathers never meant for us to help poorer nations at the time
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of war. it was used sort of giving these people who framed the constitution sort of a collective veto on certain things. and it was an interesting use of language. and then i got fascinated with harding because harding's misuse of the language was so intense that warren g. harding -- i mean, h.l. mencken created a term which was a description of how badly harding murdered the language. but harding had a interesting ability to create words like bloviate meaning what i'm doing right now, orate, you know, upontously. but it was also his word he picked up a very old word that had really no use at all except in chemistry which was normalcy. normalcy existed before in chemistry for a state of normality, but it was during the 1920 front porch campaign which is another term that came out of
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the harding years that we first heard normalcy and the return to normalcy. and, of course, immediately everybody threw up their hands, and the language police went crazy and said this was not really a word or anything. but it gradually has worked its way into the language. often after there's a major calamity or a major setback in this country, somebody will say the return to normalcy. and people don't really bat an eye lash anymore. it's now considered a proper word. or not -- it's not a proper word, it's a word. aaron mckeon, probably one of our great lexicographers said the other say somebody said something wasn't a word, and she said, no, you got it wrong, you don't have to have a pedigree to be a dog. a word is still nothing more than a unit of communication. but the -- so i really started looking into this. did a lot of, you know, research, a lot of looking into the presidents. and the storyline in this, it's an a to z book, so you can go and dip in as you see fit.
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some of the stuff is funny, some not so funny. but really what the nexus of the whole thing is if you look back at the beginnings of this country and the whole concept of language and of what this country was, there's a letter that's written between benjamin franklin and noah webster, the dictionary maker, in which they talk about acts of resistance, acts of rebellion, acts of response to the british. and they're talking, they use various words to talk about it, but they're really sort of american acts to sort of identify who we are as a people. and what are involved in these acts? one of the acts is public libraries. benjamin franklin has come to this country, his father's come to this country smuggling a bible, smuggling a bible into the seat of a chair and tells benjamin at one point that one of the things, most important
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things you can be is a printer. and this is the idea that when england at that time when his father came over, when the franklins came over that in england there were only two printing presses, one in oxford, one in london. and franklin was very interested in these acts, these definitions of who we were as a people. so when franklin creates a free library in philadelphia, this is seen as an act of resistance, an act of -- against the british. it's a thumbing of the nose against the british. when noah weber the goes and literally -- webster goes and literally crusades for literacy, this is his way of not only to sell dictionaries and can books that he, spelling books and such, but it was also part of these acts against the british. and copyright is another. weber the's one of the early people with this. and the early presidents and are all very much aware of this. jefferson probably is the lead on this. jefferson creates words with
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great, great abandon. he just loves to create words. he loves to sort of tuck a jibe at the british by creating words. 1840, much later, but he writes -- i'm sorry, 1820, he writes a letter to john adams, and he says, you know, our duty as americans is to neologize, to create new phrases. so jefferson creating all these words, and some of them are -- he creates the word ottoman. not for the empire, but for the foot stool. he creates -- there's just, there are 114 words now in the oxford english dictionary which are credited to jefferson either as the coiner or the introducer, the first one to actually bring them into the mainstream. and the list is really sort of fascinating. pedicure is his word.
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pussy -- i'm sorry, that's teddy roosevelt. monocrat meaning a person who believes in a single rule. the one he does probably the most with and becomes the most egregious to the purists and the language police is the word "belittle." he creates the word belittle, he knows what he's up to. he knows he's creating something that's going to be very disturbing. noah webster himself loves the word. in fact, one of noah webster's teachers at yale writes noah webster a letter about the word "belittle," and it extends -- the british hate the word to the extent that when fowler comes out in 1938, fowler is still attacking the word as sort of a piece of american trash that jefferson did to create sort of, disturb the british. the very early days of language from the jefferson, adams,
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washington, they all were aware that they were creating a new language. and one of noah webster's precepts was that the united states -- the american language would be descriptive rather than proscriptive. it would not be the king's english. it would be the language of the trapper and the farmer and the tradesman. and so when webster really starts to go at the dictionary he's mustering out at the end of the revolutionary war and he is in a camp in newburg, new york, and there's groups, large groups of people mustering out of the service at that point. and there's groups of cockney, and there's groups of irish and their brogues, and there are indian, american indian groups and all these other groups, people speaking haitian, german, all these people in these fields, and he's wandering through the fields and the campfires are burning, and webster says we're going to have to figure out how to make this one language. we're going to have to create
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our own american language. so he's right from the beginning he's very adealt at picking -- adept at picking up indian words like creek instead of brook which is the kind of thing the english are very upset about. raccoon was probably the first one. john smith introduces the word raccoon. it was an algonquin indian word which means he who washes his face with his hands which was what the raccoon did. so these were the early or words. and they would pick up words like sleigh and coleslaw from the dutch and cafeteria and hacienda from the spanish. and these were, again, this was seen as acts of defiance, and it was very clear right through, you know, madison comes up with his own -- i mean, madison maybe the greatest word that madison came up with, "squatter." he needed a name for somebody who was illegally possessing somebody else's property. john adams came up with a bunch, caucus which he gets from an
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indian term, speck meaning to buy something on spec, speculation. quixotic meaning in the manner of don quixote. that was adams. john quincy adams when he was of pretty much, when we came to the alien and sedition acts, he came up with the term -- needed a name for what was going on, and he came up with the word "gag rule." that was his. so you see in the early presidents this ability to sort of watch things and write them down and use them. so when george washington in the oxford english dictionary if you go in there today and look up the word "tin can," you will find that that word is credited to george washington. bakery and bake were washington's words. washington came up with these words at a very early time when the bakery was a bakehouse like a smokehouse. it was a distill erie and there was a bakehouse, but then in washington's diary it became a
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bakery. so this was part of our early -- and, of course, the fact that we had webster to write this all down is rather amazing. webster comes up with, noah webster comes up with his first dictionary in 1807. there are two words that really, really bother the british x those are "congressional" and "presidential." and they say they have no reason to be in the dictionary. and between 1807 in the first dictionary and his second dictionary in 1820, webster goes to england and walks the streets of england picking up language. and he knows this this is the stuff that is not in the english dictionaries at that time. the samuel johnson had not picked them up. he saw the language of of the street as part of what was part of language. so this -- there was this sort of democratic background of this thing. and as it goes along, there are things that, for example, jefferson creates which are
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hysterical. i mean, he comes up with twistification which sounds like something that george bush would come up with. [laughter] but there's some just wonderful things. and, of course b, his -- preble on the seedier side -- probably on the seedier side, and i'm relying on the oxford english dictionary to tell you this, but the cop la story verb to shag is credited to thomas jefferson in one of his diaries. and it does not appear in the any slang dictionary for another 30 years. and this, again, i'm using the be all and end all for sort of early nailing down when a word was created, so austin powers did not create the word "shag," it was thomas jefferson. [laughter] you can tell, by the way, that i have a lot of fun doing this. the other challenge was just looking at how this progressed. you can look at different presidents and see who really was clever, who was just remarkably clever, who was really, you know, the smartest. i mean, along the way there was
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president johnson, the first president johnson is the first one to come up with the phrase and the concept of racial discrimination. it was the first time discrimination had ever been used in the distinction between race, religion, etc., discrimination in the fact as opposed to judging the size of eggs or something, being discriminate. and so by giving it a name, by giving it a fame it started -- a name it started to have it own life. the ability of a president to name something, i'm jumping ahead a little bit, but in 1934 franklin d. roosevelt was going to give his annual address to congress and was from day one in this country the president at the beginning of the year would give an address to the nation and to the congress. and roosevelt in 1934 says, oh, i'll give it a name, calls it the state of the union. so a lot of these terms which are sort of created by presidents we think are, um, they are from day one. in fact, they're ones that have
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been added later. and, again, some of them are just wonderful. i mean, i'll just jump to a couple. zachary taylor created the term "first lady." he applied it to dolly madison. that was the first anyone had ever used that term. he said the first lady of the land. benjamin harrison was "keep the ball rolling." i'm jumping around a little bit, but it's sort of fun. woodrow wilson had potomac fever which was something harry truman love offed to quote. -- loved to quote. watchful waiting was very closely associated with woodrow waiting first in his relationship to the dictatorship in mexico where there was a lot of feeling that we should go in and intervene in mexico where there was a fairly active and ugly dictatorship afoot, and wilson said, no, this this is
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watchful waiting. we're going to wait and see. and once the world started, world war world war i, that was attributed back to woodrow wilson, that he was using watchful waiting. for whatever reason, watchful waiting is now used in, um, diagnosis of certain illnesses where rather than treat them immediately, you go through a period of watchful waiting. but, so that's one of the more serious ones. some of them are capricious and interesting. you know, mckinley, william mckinley, the spanish-of american war is starting. mckinley's got a telephone, he's got the telegraph, he's got a room full of maps, and he clears out the room, sets up the telephone, sets up the telegraph, pulls down the maps and declares this is my war room. that term does not exist before then. still jumping around, you know, it's coolidge, calvin coolidge comes down from massachusetts where he's put down a police strike in boston, and he is, he
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goes to the convention, and he is the law and order candidate. and there are political buttons out there on ebay and stuff that says, you know, calvin coolidge, the law and order candidate. that was his -- the phrase had been used before, but it was the first time it had really been used as a political motto. the, um, again, there are to various people i just have the list as the best people. there are a couple of thing that are in the book that are not american, that came from overseas. disrailly is the one who created dark horse which is very much a part of american political language. and one that sort of threw me a bit was the first person that used social security was winston churchill, he used it in 1906 in an essay about modern society and what has to be done. he's the one that creates the term "social security." i, um, there are some people
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that really did well with it. i think if you're sort of going down a list of who were the most powerful presidents in terms of language and innovation, i think you've got to have, frankly, roosevelt's got to be way up there. not only the phrase "day of infamy," iffy, 1937 he's talking about the supreme court, and he said some of the decisions of this supreme court, if you ask me, they're iffy. and the next day the lead in the papers was, in fact of, the president created a word today, iffy. and for five or six years i remember finding a columnist in the tribune said pardon me if i use the president's word, but this is an iffy preposition. and, of course, slang gets them in trouble. woodrow wilson is a great slangster, and one of the things, there are editorials. he said let's get a move on, and
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he'd say this, and he'd use gal instead of girl. he's use a lot of almost like tin pan alley's kind of slang, and he was really lam basted for using slang. and he would come up with these aphorisms, a man's leafage depends on his rootage. [laughter] and, you know, the guardians of the language were just appalled by this, by his use of this. >> he just love today play around with language. and presidents do get in trouble. i'm not even going to mention george bush in this breath, but the biggest flap is probably -- well, teddy roosevelt does write a letter to the head of the english department at harvard university saying that he believed we should be splitting infinitives, and that created its own furor that he got involved in that. [laughter] eisenhower's second inaugural, he gets up, and he's -- eisenhower's quite articulate and comes up with some wonderful phrases, domino theory is his, he comes up, of course, with the
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military industrial complex which rings down through the decades. but in the second inaugural he said, um, before we can finalize our plans and the word "finalize" was such a discordant tone that there were editorials all over the country. there were people wringing their hands. burr begin evans had to do a special column or for parade magazine defending eisenhower for turning, creating this verb out of the word "final." and they hadn't even heard prioritize yet. [laughter] but it was just this angry sort of reaction to his use of that word that was astonishing. and eisenhower did have a nice, very nice way of talking. um, but -- and created some nice stuff. counterproductive is eisenhower's. the first example they can find of the word counterproductive which sounds like a military, bureaucratic term. it sounds like something
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somebody would say in a war room. this is, doing this is counterproductive, it doesn't get us anywhere. i'm building up to who i think is the king of them all, so there's a little bit of -- um, lyndon johnson had some nice ones, but lyndon johnson picked up a couple -- lyndon johnson, again, i'm using every authority i can find, but i'm sure he picked this up. pressing the flesh was a johnsonism. i'll be down there pressing the flesh. and ladybird gets credit for motorcade. that doesn't exist before she comes up with motorcade, and it's picked up by "time" magazine. there's no at least written example of that being used before that. um, richard nixon has some nice ones. he -- depending on your point of view -- but silent majority is his, deleted a coinage of his
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speech writers when they're going over the records of the watergate, their use of term instead of saying censored they used the term expletive deleted which became its own sort of curse word. another one which was very interesting at the time, created quite a stir was when he talked about, started talking about winding down the war and winding down seemed to be sort of -- you know, we're winding up, it was few to american ears and created -- it was new to american ears and created some real response at that time. george h -- yeah, george herbert walker books came up with some nice ones. new world order was his, thousand points of light. he got that from somewhere else, but he made that his own, he popularized that. george bush came under a lot of criticism for a lot of his terms, and i did -- i took them all at face value. i went and looked them up. in other words, i didn't --
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cheap shot is to say that these were all mall apropose riches and he was entirely off the wall. but i did find that indebter, which was one of his, according to the oxford english dictionary it entered the english language in 1893, and the word resonate came into the establish language in 1531. and one of the words that ha's always attributed -- that's always attributed to him which is strategy was actually a creation of saturday night live, and he never did say it. but the one you can already hang on him is misunderestimate, but there have been several pretty well known people who write about language online, including one of the top writers in england, who said, um, he said it actually works. it's to underestimate by mistake, which he says happens to all of us, especially with
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building contractors. so it may be one of those words like normalcy which will gradually become more and more acceptable. um, i guess i've got to jump here. anybody else i got to mention in passing. um, but i guess i've got to go to the king of them all has got to be without question, and in the back of the book i pick the neologist in chief, and even though jefferson clearly wins on volume, it's got to be teddy roosevelt. roosevelt just has, he just goes up and down. i mean, his is parlor pacifist is his, becomes parlor pink. weasel words is his. meaning euphemisms, words that are the meaning of which is like a weasel going into an egg, it sucked all the meaning out of it. they're weasel words. lunatic fringe is his, and he
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comes up with it in reference to the, he sees the armory, the famous abstract expression, beginning of abstract expressionism in modern art, and he sees the duh champ nude descending, and he says in everier moment there's a lunatic fringe that takes over and destroys. roosevelt has got, um, he's got invisible government is his, a secret bond between government and business. he's got malefactors of great wealth. he's got great white fleet which is what he dubs the group, the fleet that'll go around the world. nature fakers is his. he starts reading some of these nature writers who are attributing a phenomenal powers to animals, you know, wolves who lead pioneer children out of the woods from starvation and animals with codes of of behavior and animals which act
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with biblical precision. and, of course, he comes up with this term nature fakers and he crusades against them. earnest thompson is one of the nature fakers, and he goes after him. the -- one of my favorites which is, actually, william sapphire is the one who proved this before he died was, who a lot of this stuff is, of course, deeply involved with of sapphire, and i did some, a lot of research for sapphire and some of these terms including mulligan with eisenhower. i'll come back to that in a second. but the term that teddy roosevelt which was loose cannon meaning not in the nautical sense of the cannon on a carriage floating around on the deck of a ship killing, taking the legs off seamen, but the loose cannoning being the errat, you know, the person out of control. that, you know, the person who's the loose cannon.
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so you can go on with teddy roosevelt. you go through the book, you'll find -- the other one which was quite curious was good to the last drop which he invents. he's at the maxwell house which was a famous restaurant and hotel in nashville, tennessee, and they pour him a cup of coffee, and he says, ah, this is good to the last drop, and before you know it, they're promoting this coffee all over the country, it becomes a national brand using teddy roads svelte's slow began. -- roosevelt's slogan. he may be the first and only president to write an advertising slogan. so i think the next question, of course, that everyone wants to know is how does our present president, president obama, what has he tone that's interesting? he's yet to really make a mark. he's not done -- he's done a couple interesting ones. shovel-ready is really his. it's hard to find that anywhere in the first t.a.r.p., he said we've got projects that are
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shovel ready. sonoma get done's his. ing he -- that was a totally spontaneous, this was in the 2011, the monster snowstorm that came through here, and he gets, he leaves the white house, and he gets to -- everything's shut down, the whole city's shut down. he gets to a hotel to give an address, and he looks out and says this is snowmageddon. the other one that's his, too, i think in 2011 he used the term sputnik moment. we came up -- in his state of the union special saying this country needed a challenge, an outside moment that would regenerate our interest in research and development and in education and stuff, as had the sputnik launch in the 1957. it may have been to a younger generation it may have been too diffuse, because sputnik is probably not as big a thing as it is to an older generation, but that was pretty clever. but most of his slogans, most of
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his abilities so far have not, have not really caught on. the first summer he was in washington he said, and it's a strange construct, but he said in august he said this is the time when washington becomes all wee weed up and things are hard to get done. no one really knows what it means, but it's somehow applicable. [laughter] so on that low note, i think i'm going to see if you guys have any questions and want to talk about these things. yes, ma'am. >> i'm surprised that you didn't mention the president that we popularly think are the most eloquent; ronald reagan and john f. kennedy. were they just good at regular words, or did they -- >> oh, no, they had, i mean, john f. kennedy had wonderful phrases, and the new frontier
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was his. but they were more or eloquent in sense of their ability to give speeches. ronald reagan as well. but they didn't have the -- it wasn't that they created a term that was, that just was with everlasting. i mean, some of them have interesting, you know, you go to new frontier, you go to truman, truman had some nice things. i mean, snollgoster, it was an old american term. truman had, um, i know that wasn't your question, but they've all got stories. my favorite trumanism was at one point he was having a lot of trouble with congress, and he invoked the term "trocar." trocar is a metal trumpet that's used to relieve pressure in organic places. and in the prairies in missouri when a bull or a cow or bovine animal would eat too much clover, there would be a huge amount of gas inside the, inside
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the animal, and they would insert this instrument called a trocar. and they would create a whistling sound that would cascade along the prairies. and truman wrote to one of his aides saying that congress was a trocar. [laughter] and the buck stops here was truman's. i'm jumping around a little bit. which is actually a sign that somebody, it's an illusion to poker and the buck, meaning the pot. and it actually was a friend of his had bought it from a prison gift shop where one of the prisoners had carved it on a piece of wood, and he hung it above the desk. but, again, there is eloquence. i didn't want really address presidential eloquence, but i think that, um, i was looking more for the phrases, the keywords. and the origins. i mean, it's interesting, i think i've got five pages in the book on new deal because this is
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franklin roose svelte's new program -- roosevelt's new program. and roosevelt, every one of his -- all of his aides, three of his aides actually claim that they invented the term. but roosevelt is meeting with one of mark twain's distant relatives, and he insists, tells twain's distant relative, um, that he got it from a connecticut yankee in king arthur's court in which the hero is trying to, the characters in the connecticut yankee, the serfs, the pez sames are -- peasants are subjugating the rule of king arthur and not doing very well, and he stands up and says you guys need a new deal. and that was from connecticut yankee. and the other one, i'mty depressing for a second because i'm working on another book about words from famous writers. if you'd remember the old laugh-in show, they'd always
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start with a picture of mark twain. and that's because in connecticut yankee he is also the first one to use sock it to me. they're about to hang -- they're going to execute the hero, and he said, come on, sock it to me. so that became the biword for -- the other one, i have to tell you for a book that isn't even written, but i just found the other day that if you read all of paradise lost carefully, you'll find that john milton in paradise lost talks about all hell breaking loose, which i thought was a nice, you know, modern itch. modernism. yes, sir. >> i have a comment and also a question. first, the comment. with your introduction of all these new words, i don't think english is our number one language anymore. i think it's more like united states. we don't speak english, we speak united states -- >> that's what h.l. men kin did with his -- mencken did with his monstrous three volume on the
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american language which he was roundly criticized for, but in 1910 there was a dictionary of americanisms based on historical principles, and he found 50,000 words which were american in origin. many of them obscure and lost in time and many of them having to do with names of apples. [laughter] you know, things like that. but they were american in their basis. and so that's -- and one of the things webster says 1807 in the first noah webster dictionary he says in 50 years the predominant form of english will be americanism. and americanism, the term for american words, is jefferson's own word. >> my question, was fireside -- did franklin roosevelt's fireside chats, did he coin that phrase, or was that done by a radio commentator who might have introduced him? >> it was, the guy was harry butcher who was with nbc -- >> abc. >> cbs.
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>> cbs. harry butcher's the guy who invented it. and the first one to enunciate it, and roosevelt budget prepared for it, was robert trout who was the one who introduced the fireside chat. and so, but the word roosevelt at first budget sure, and then he realized it was just perfect for what he was doing. and it's always been associate with the the fireside chats. again, a quick digression, but when i did, i've done some baseball writing and a baseball dictionary, and one of the things i found out was that when roosevelt's starting to write the fireside chats you realize he's a very well educated man with a slightly, you know, aristocratic boston braman sort of sound to his voice, but he wants to really talk to the american people. he feels the fireside chats that he's coaching them out of the depression. and he starts using baseball. he starts using baseball very heavily. he says, you know, my boxcar
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score with congress is just terrible. or i just thought i'd -- i just can't get to first base with this legislation. or there's some member of the opposite party that are out in the left field, they don't understand what's going on in this country. so we've used these metaphors. and it's again picked up by eisenhower. eisenhower misses with a lot of football -- mixes with a lot of football metaphors, and that sort of becomes a big chain in language is the presidents take on more popular metaphor for explaining things. and an earlier generation would have explained it in much more legislative sort of, you know, bureaucratic kind of language where all of a sudden it's we just can't get to first base or with a touchdown or something. jim? >> do you think the white house speech writers have ruined presidential eloquence? [laughter] >> uh, that's a good question. i mean, they've had them all along, so there are some people
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who would argue that some of the best stuff was written by speech writers. there's a question of whether or not eisenhower actually wrote military industrial complex, or was it really malcolm moos who was one of his aides? maybe they've homogenized it. maybe, maybe that's the -- i mean, i still think there's got to be some degree of spontaneity. i think probably to speech writer passed on -- when obama said snowmageddon which was an obvious blend of snow and armageddon which, you know, you can concede, of course, that it probably just popped out of his head. and i think a lot -- but, again, they may have, they sort of dumbed them down to some degree. i think, you know, president obama, actually "the washington post" last summer ran a list of about 20 of his slogans, and they're all just dead fish. i mean, together we win, and -- but they don't have any resonance. and so i think sometimes maybe
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some of the crispness goes out of it. but it's a good question. i'm sure there's a presidential -- a guy like bob orbin who we all know who was a speech writer for gerald ford, i suspect bob was actually a great asset to gerald ford and wrote some really good stuff for him, so -- yes, ma'am. >> if john wood, i think it's very interesting what he said where he said speak united states. would you tell that? >> i grew up in a neighborhood in northeastern pennsylvania, and we came home from school, one of my class mates was italian, and he said something in italian, a greeting to his father who very, very difficult. was speaking english, very broken english, and the father said, mickey, i send you to school to learn english, but he said you just speak united
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states. [laughter] >> not english, but speak united states. >> so that's where i -- but words have been added. we are speaking a language that we created here. >> right. >> it is united states, or it's created by the presidents and the other people who use the language, speech writers, whatever. >> and the writers themselves. i mean, in doing this other book -- i'm drifting into a book that i haven't even started writing yet, but i've just gotten copious notes. there's sometimes when a writer will just come up with something that nobody can understand. when f. scott fitzgerald writes tender is the night, he come cans up with t-shirt. and the critics can't figure out what is a t-shirt? and he just sort of made it up meaning it wasn't the kind of undershirt like this, but it was just that these names -- and often writers and presidents will create a word on purpose. they'll do it to create a word.
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when norman miller creates a factoid, something that was not a fact at all, it was a piece of conventional wisdom that was wrong. but now it's being used to mean mini fact or small fact. yes, sir. >> yes, i'm sorry. i missed first part of your presentation, so maybe you addressed that, but what does it take for a new word from the white house to become popular and stay? i suppose some might be forgotten or lost. >> oh, absolutely. i mean, that's the whole business of creating words, and, of course, i quoted erin mckeon before, the lex kohler if who said, you know, a word is just a single unit of communication, and just because you're not in the dictionary doesn't really mean anything. you don't have to be a pedigree
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to be a dog, that was her one-liner. but there's no reason why you just can't make up words -- i've been working for years to create words. i created the word demonym because there was never a word for those names for places where people have come from. and it get into this book even -- george washington creates michigander, and later people were saying, no, it's really michiganian, and i've tried mightily to get that word into the dictionary. now that it's on c-span, wow. ..
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>> it spread like wildfire. then a couple people over the years has studied how award are how joke, that so great initiative anthropology is how does a joke ago from los angeles to johannesburg in three days? it's partly this hidden language. there's a book by a couple of british folklore, hidden language of childhood. they talk about these things, jump rope. but again it's humongous now. but the first time you heard it into exactly what it meant.
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it's humongous. you know what it meant. and even in this book, the one that really, really amazed me is that john adams is credited with a word meaning the bird. you can't imagine that he came up with that himself. you probably heard it from a gardener or somebody in the street. but he's the person ever to write it down and defined and say what it is. a chickadee. which is again the word is, you know, on the monochromatic, a word that is made to sound like what it is. so smile, because try to say it without smiling. or laugh. forgetting all the greek and latin stems. that's part of it also. the word has got to fit. it can't just be something that is greater to be funny. it's got to think the situation. think about it.
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>> something might be similar, finalized and prioritize. i wish i knew the answer, if we all picked up on it afterwards but i was in a meeting today at work, to mattress size this. i thought that's not a word. but your point, what do we adopt and pick up on, and how does it become part of our vernacular? >> what was the word you just said? [inaudible] spent there's a microphone. >> again, if you look, you can't really say it's not a word. because all it is is a unit of communication. even though it got you angry and wanted to throw high at the person said, the fact is you know what they meant.
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it was communication at work. and it might be also useful as a word that makes other people in the room -- >> we all understood what it meant your but do you have ideas or thoughts on trends like that? finalize and prioritize, but how may things get picked up, adopted in othe in other ways? >> i would have to find a reverse dictionary. gershwin said we will rhapsodize about this beautiful singer. that works. you throw rhapsody into rhapsodize. final into finalize is not a major transgression. the other thing you've got to realize, sometime i did some language commentary, and there is a language police out there. if you ever say, hopefully --
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there will come that you -- so there is, that are people out there who want to keep it straight. but i've done some work and i've talked to people who read dictionaries. they don't run around saying language is going over the cli cliff. they said, you know, a changes. there's a lot of examples of words that were once another way. the word and apron was also an app can originally. it was tricky. but it migrated over to the apkin and became a napkin. so -- i don't have the paperwork on it because it was a long time ago but when that migrated there were probably people pulling
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their have out saying put that back over on the end. so language is organic. but someone like myself who makes a living, a partial living writing about all the stuff, it's wonderful. one of the most recent words that went into the book, a book which is just out in a new edition is now 2800 -- now, 986 words and we're trying to get to 3000. they all have to be verified. one of my recent ones was -- describing a party in manhattan. they said a major interior designer had come out of the party with the furniture in his brain reorganizing. he was schwayed, meaning he was three sheets to the wind. [inaudible] >> everybody howls and boots and
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throws themselves on the floor. but it was meant to be an emphasis. so the language in this country, especially this country, the english language, is a daily pleasant side effects of 2 million schoolteachers tomorrow say a regardless of what you say, and hopefully i'm wrong, but if all those people are saying a regardless, it's not going over the transom from barbarism to part of the way we talk. so i don't get as -- about irregardless. we are down, i'm just watching, we are down to about five minutes. >> [inaudible] >> the original in who took
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tocqueville to task. it was first brought up in "the new yorker." he had been using hopefully before that in the very sense that they were -- and there are other people. merriam-webster have done massive studies of the distinction, and they say there is none. and that, the modern language fits. >> in the book do you talk only about -- or their associate with -- [inaudible] >> i do. i have sort of a subcategory like teflon president ronald reagan which is very interesting. i do have the words that come out of them, over bills and who've arise which was a wonderful word for the person -- president who was in charge of
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the feeding of europe and the food stops for the world. who've arise meant to be frugal, to be careful, not waste food, do not throw food away is to hooverise. but i do that in the book. that's part of their legacy. spent are the reasons it might be harder for modern presidential obama to notably be -- than it was for the founding fathers? can you talk about how you researched the book? >> it probably is a little bit harder but he, i mean, you know, if you just look at the language that's been created by the internet and the language that's been created by, you know come in the last 20 years, probably isn't. it may happen by chance. when lincoln creates -- lincoln creates some really great was but one of the first words he
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thought about secession. he said that secession is the sugar coating, the impact of this country. lincoln when he first used sugarcoated, the printers of the united states comes to lincoln and said we cannot put this in the official record, the word sugarcoated. and lincoln says i can't imagine any american not knowing what you're saying. lincoln was also, again i'm going back to william safire's influence, one of the first uses of cool, not innocent of temperature but in the sense of being callous, he said, something he said that was cool. that was callous. it was a behavioral thing. so again, those are, a word like cool. obama could come up with a new name of cool. that's another thing. one word and you give it different many. as i said with all these different meanings. and how i did this was i did a lot of reading and i get a lot of use of huge proprietary
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databases at the library of congress. 19th century database where you can find the original document in which 1807 when jefferson writes and comes up with the phrase separation of church and state, which is not in the constitution. in fact, the first articulate in this letter to danbury baptists by jefferson. so a lot of it was just looking at terminals where these monster, not google kind of things but these proprietary databases where it has encapsulated every word and phrase. and it's just, it's fascinating, this stuff. mckinley thing came out of market leeches in the day with mckinney. i read that book years ago. when he comes up to the war ro room. so that was an easy one. i think we are down to about one question.
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>> tell us about mulligan spent mulligan meaning an extra shot in golf, teeing off the first hole, the first, that's a mulligan. meaning that you could get a do over. and it existed before and but it was when eisenhower starts playing golf and he starts invoking the mulligan. "the new york times" has a great explanation of what a mulligan is. so it's a classic example of a piece of sort of low slang, golfer guys, tougher slang. here's eisenhower playing with arnold palmer are some and he takes a mulligan. [inaudible] >> presumably. i think it's like murphy's law. it's sort of a slight on the irish at you have to take an extra shot. thank you very much, everybody. i appreciate it. [applause] >> that was paul dickson author
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of parenting. for more information visit his website, pauldicksonbooks.com. >> we're at the national press club book fair the other night with celia wexler, author of "out of the news: former journalists discuss a profession in crisis" you are a former journalist. y. speak with why and my former journalist? does i could not become, be the mother of one to of a small child into the journalism i wanted to do. then i found a really wonderful and fulfilling career as a public interest lobbyist. but i always was very emotionally attached to journalism, and this book gave me a chance to connect with people, many of them left to journalism at the top of their games, with some of the biggest media allies in the country. and i was able to explore with them their feelings about the profession. and this is really media criticism with a human face.
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so these are wonderful stories, because the lives of journalists are very exciting. and rich. and the reasons for leaving the profession, and sometimes they leave and come back or sometimes they leave and start their own nonprofit investigative journalism organization, as chuck lewis the, sometimes they leave like david simon, and become an author of the water. so these are people who have had rich and varied stories, and the stories end up leaving the reader with an idea that journalism is not dead. that the future of journalism is a little uncertain, but that the need for journalism continues. spent you profile and 11 journalists are just a former journalists in this book. what is different now than today's contemporary landscape in journalism and med t